AC Students Earn “Best in State” Title in TEAM+S Competition

Posted on January 21st, 2021 by acsrochester
Written by Mary Cotter ’22

Right before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, I was a member of the 9-10 Allendale Columbia TEAM+S team that included Aidan Wun ‘22, Harmony Palmer ‘23, Chris Smoker ’23, and me, Mary Cotter ’22.  We competed in the Tests of Engineering Aptitude, Mathematics and Science (TEAM+S) competition, earning the title of NYS Champions! Our win would have earned us a position at the National competition, but this was cancelled due to COVID-19.

The TEAM+S competition encourages students to explore the field of engineering through problem solving and collaboration with their teammates. The theme for the competition this year was improving zoos. This encouraged us to delve into research about solutions to common complaints about zoos, the costs of such solutions, and the environmental impact.

Before the competition, our team wrote an essay responding to the prompt: “Your team is tasked with modifying an existing zoo within your state to develop innovations that would maximize economic, environmental, and/or societal benefits.” We wrote about modifying the Utica Zoo by planting native plant species, installing more energy-efficient appliances, and transforming the zoo into a sanctuary.

Zoo animals, including those at the Utica Zoo, have been observed as “anxious and bored” creating a “depressing” experience for visitors, according to Google Reviews. And it’s easy to see the reason for bored animals and bored children. Utica Zoo attendance has declined in recent years, and the Zoo has suffered financially. The Utica Zoo depends on government bailouts, but our essay outlined a few changes that could transform the Zoo into a healthier environment for the animals and a fun and educational experience for visitors.

On the day of the competition, we worked together on a 90-minute, 80-question multiple choice test. The topics of the questions were centered around the theme and required us to divide the questions based on individual strengths in math, biology, technology, and creative problem-solving. Then we completed the engineering challenge in which we created the lightest crane to lift the most weight to the greatest height. We were given limited time and resources to create our crane.

This competition was very intellectually stimulating and forced us to work collaboratively to find the best solutions to complicated problems.  It was a fun way to explore the field of engineering.

Learn More About the Invent Center for STEM and Innovation


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Posted in: AC in the News, Authentic Learning, Highlights, Invent, Upper School

AC Alumna, Lexi Williams ’11, Nationally Syndicated Op-Ed

Posted on October 2nd, 2020 by acsrochester

At AC, we teach about discourse, dialogue and finding your own voice. One of our 2011 graduates, Lexi Williams was featured in USA Today and the Rochester D&C for an op-ed piece she wrote.

Click here to read the article.

Posted in: AC in the News, Alumni News

AC students host the eighth-annual TEDxAllendaleColumbiaSchool

Posted on February 13th, 2020 by Amelia Fitzsimmons

On February 1st, AC students hosted their eighth-annual TEDx event, an independently organized event run exclusively by students and licensed by TED. This year, eleven speakers took the stage, including retired U.S. Army Colonel Mark Kortepeter, Adrian Hale, Kerry Dunn, and numerous students and community members. This is one of only three TEDx events scheduled in Rochester this year and the only one exclusively organized and run by high school students.

TEDxAllendaleColumbiaSchool 2020 was incredibly successful this year. We are very grateful for all the speakers and volunteers who made a large impact on our event by working hard in all the preparation that took place. Without combined team effort, the event would not have been as successful as it was. New experiences and ideas were brought out this year and many minds were opened because of it. 

We were glad to hear that most of you enjoyed your time in your interactive labs! We were excited to have several willing lab hosts for our event. Some of this year’s labs included an intro to screen printing by Tiny Fish, A mini hour of code by STEM and Innovation Director Maya Crosby and AC sophomore Mary Cotter, and a virtual reality experience by Alejandro Perez. We are so thankful for all of our lab hosts for donating their time and knowledge to this year’s event. 

We would also like to congratulate all of our speakers for doing an amazing job presenting and sharing their ideas. Speakers from this year were unforgettable and that is why this was one of the best years for TEDxAllendaleColumbiaSchool. This year, 11 speakers took the stage, including Adrian Hale, Kerry Dunn, Lissarette Nisnevich, Jack Jiao, Yueying Bai, Olivia Van Gemert, Autumn Flowers, Mfon Akpan, Andrew Brady, The Garth Fagan Dance Company and Mark Kortepeter. 

And, finally, thank you to everyone who attended our event this year! 

We plan to share all of our event photos and videos soon so stay tuned via our social media (Twitter, Instagram and Facebook). 

Check out our media coverage!


Posted in: AC in the News, Authentic Learning, Centers for Impact, Eleventh Grade, Entrepreneurship, Events & Workshops, Highlights, Ninth Grade, Tenth Grade, The Birches, Twelfth Grade, Upper School, US Birches

AC students earn seven coveted Scholastic Art & Writing Awards

Posted on February 13th, 2020 by Amelia Fitzsimmons



The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, conducted by the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, is one of the country’s longest-running, most prestigious recognition programs for creative students in the U.S., and the nation’s largest source of scholarships for young artists and writers in grades 7 – 12. Since its founding, the Awards have established an amazing track record for identifying the early promise of our nation’s most accomplished and prolific creative leaders. The Awards have an impressive legacy dating back to 1923 and a noteworthy roster of past award winners including Andy Warhol, Sylvia Plath, Truman Capote, Richard Avedon, John Lithgow, Ken Burns, Robert Redford, Kay WalkingStick, and Joyce Carol Oates. For more information about the program, visit

The Awards give students opportunities for recognition, exhibition, publication, and scholarships. This year, students across America submitted nearly 320,000 original works this year in 29 different categories of art and writing. Student entries are judged on originality, technical skill, and the emergence of a personal vision. AC students submitted works into a sizeable Northwest Region-At-Large category, and the following students were honored with these regional awards:

Silver Key Awards, Photography

Matt Duver, ‘20 “Surfacing”

Matt Duver,’20 “Release”

Nya Hauser, ‘23 “Stuck Up”

Silver Key Award, Fashion

Sophie Diehl, ‘22 “Drop Crown” 


Honorable Mention, Animation

Ava Gouvernet, ‘20 “Patience and Harmony”


Honorable Mention, Mixed Media

Elena Korte, ‘24 “Teardrop”


Honorable Mention, Drawing and Illustration

Vivian Osness, ‘20 “Landscape”


Posted in: AC in the News, Eighth Grade, Eleventh Grade, Highlights, Middle School, MS Birches, Ninth Grade, Seventh Grade, Tenth Grade, The Birches, Twelfth Grade, Uncategorized, Upper School, US Birches

Allendale Columbia School Ranked As One Of Newsweek’s Top 5,000 STEM High Schools in America

Posted on December 19th, 2019 by acsrochester

Allendale Columbia School was recently ranked as one of Newsweek’s Top 5,000 STEM High Schools in America. More than 30,000 high schools in the country were analyzed over a three-year period to determine the rankings. Newsweek, with its long history of reporting on scientific breakthroughs, technological revolutions and societal challenges, partnered with STEM.or to rank America’s Best STEM High Schools.

Recent AC STEM Activities

NASA Thanks AC Sixth Grade Citizen Scientists for Their Research
AC sixth graders just completed a month-long citizen science project through NASA’s GLOBE Program, recording more than 330 cloud observations. On December 17th, the class virtually met with NASA Education Specialist Marile Colon Robles who thanked the students for their work and reiterated the importance their cloud data plays in NASA’s on-going studies. Read more


“Girls Who Code” Club Represent AC at Rochester Maker Faire
This past November, Allendale Columbia School was a sponsor at the Rochester Maker Faire, where our “Girls Who Code” club taught visitors how to make brush bots and paper circuits. Read more


AC Robotics Teams Compete at Local FIRST Robotics Competitions
Four AC robotics teams recently competed in local FIRST robotics competitions. Representing the lower school in the FIRST Lego Robotics City Shaper challenge, were the “Wolf Pack” and the “Lightning Boltz”, led by AC faculty member Donna Chaback. Teresa Parsons, with the help of AC parent John Palomaki, led our middle school team, the “AC Aces”, while the upper school team, “Team 11779”, led by Phil Schwartz and Maya Crosby, competed in the FIRST Tech Challenge. Read more


Second Graders Learn About Cities by Meeting with a City Planner and Building Their Own!
Second graders met with Manager of Special Projects for the City of Rochester, Erik Frisch to discuss different transportation systems and learn more about the City of Rochester as they planned and created their own city, Birchville. Read more


AC-RIT Collaboration Continues to Thrive and Enrich Learning Opportunities for Students
Students in Math 7, Math 8, Algebra I, and Honors Algebra II continue to participate in a series of classes with RIT. Most recently, students conducted a color absorption experiment using RIT’s light equipment, and they have also recently learned about cryptography and the use ciphers to create and crack codes. Read more

Posted in: AC in the News, Centers for Impact, Eighth Grade, Eleventh Grade, Fifth Grade, Highlights, Invent, Lower School, LS Birches, Middle School, MS Birches, Ninth Grade, Second Grade, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade, Tenth Grade, The Birches, Twelfth Grade, Upper School, US Birches

Second Graders Learn About Cities by Meeting with a City Planner and Building Their Own!

Posted on December 10th, 2019 by acsrochester
Learning about cities
As part of our project-based learning in Lower School, our second graders are learning about cities and what goes into designing and building one. Project-based learning is dependent upon the collaboration of several teachers and in-depth planning. Throughout this unit, the classroom teacher, Annie King, sought the expertise of our STEM teacher, Donna Chaback and our art teacher, Shari Ellmaker. They worked on concepts of engineering and the arts as they designed blueprints of their ideal city and then worked in teams to decide where certain businesses, landforms, and organizations should be located. Once they had a plan to propose, they presented their ideas to a mock city planning board comprised of Head of School, Mr. Gee, Head of Lower School Mrs. Feiss, Head of Middle School Mrs. Duver, Director of the AC Invent Center Ms. Crosby, and Director of Food Service Mrs. Reynolds.


Meeting with a Rochester City Planner to learn about transportation systems
After receiving feedback from the mock city planning board, the students were ready to design their own 3-D city. Public transportation was an issue the mock planning board raised, so the second grade students began their research in this area and quickly became experts learning about a variety of traditional and cutting edge transportation systems. They were captivated to learn about Elon Musk’s Hyperloop train as well as Sea Bubbles which are being tested in Paris, France. They also met Manager of Special Projects for the City of Rochester, Erik Frisch to discuss different transportation systems and learn more about the city of Rochester as they planned and created their own city, Birchville.


“What about a homeless shelter?” turns into donating to RAIHN
Next, students wrote and sent emails to members of the AC community asking what is needed to make a community great. One response they got was about a homeless shelter and how shelters are an integral part of a community. Once the students learned this, a deep and meaningful class discussion took place, resulting in their decision to include a homeless shelter in Birchville. This conversation also moved them to want to take immediate action to help those affected by homelessness in the Rochester community, so they decided to sell the crock-pot applesauce they’d been making in their classroom each week. The sale generated $140 which the students then donated to RAIHN, a non-profit that assists homeless families to achieve sustainable independence by supporting them with shelter, food, personalized case management and a network of caring volunteers.


Community Art
The students decided early on that they wanted art to be a part of Birchville, so they took a field trip around Rochester viewing a variety of sculptures to help determine what they wanted in their own city.  Then, Art Teacher Mrs. Ellmaker helped them design a collaborative sculpture (called “Colorful Life”) which is located in the center of Birchville.
The formal “ribbon-cutting” of Birchville was held on Monday, December 9th. Click here to view the Spectrum News coverage of this event.
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Posted in: AC in the News, Authentic Learning, Highlights, Lower School, LS Birches, Second Grade, The Birches

HAC Girls Cross Country Captures Finger Lakes Championship

Posted on November 13th, 2019 by acsrochester

October 28, 2019

Wayne, N.Y. – In one of the most tightly contested Wayne-Finger Lakes Championship races in recent history, the varsity girls cross country team took 1st place overall by just a single point in the varsity ‘A’ race at Wayne High School on Saturday morning. The Wolves (115 team points) narrowly took 1st place overall as the top-4 teams were separated by just 4 points.

HAC was able to beat out Waterlo0 (2nd place – 116 team points), Wayne (3rd place – 117 team points) and Red Creek (4th – 118 team points) as they were led by sophomore Mary Cotter who took 3rd place overall out of 99 runners in a time of 20:26.

Senior Liza Cotter was HAC’s next fastest runner earning an 11th overall finish in 21:28. She was followed by 8th grader Evelyn Kacprzynski who ran a career-best 5k time of 22:25 while placing 27th overall. Tea Malone-Bonacci also ran a personal-best as she finished in 29th place in 22:30. She was followed by Emmy Kaza (24:01) who placed 51st and Olivia Woodring (24:30) who finished 53rd overall. Rounding out HAC’s top-7 runners was junior Zoe Crego who placed 58th overall in 24:42 to help secure the Wolves Finger Lakes League meet championship.

The race featured 14 different schools from the Wayne-Finger Lakes Area. The Wolves depth and team were also tested as they were missing one of their top runners in senior Roxy Reisch due to illness.

“HAC’s girls gutted out a thrilling victory in which a mere 4 points separated the top 4 teams,” said head coach Dan Deckman. “I have never seen anything quite like it in cross country. Every single point and every single runner truly played a decisive role in the win.  It was a full team accomplishment that I will never forget.”

Meanwhile, the HAC varsity boys cross country runners also turned out a terrific performance as junior Ryan Mogauro paced the Wolves in the varsity ‘A’ race with a 60th overall finish in 19:48.

He was followed Zach Ellis who’s time of 20:23 placed him in 76th overall. Finishing right behind Ellis was Ming DeMers in 77th place (20:26) and Greg Castellano in 78th place (20:38). Ethan Hearne set a new personal-best 5k time in 21:09 en route to a 94th place finish, while Julian Quesada (22:12) and James Hawkins (24:20) rounded out HAC’s top-7 finishers by placing 111th and 129th respectively.

The boys race featured 133 racers from 19 different school districts.

HAC will race next at the Section V Championship race at Midlakes High School this upcoming Saturday, November 2nd. The girls will race in the Class C race that begins at 1:00 PM and the boys will race in the Class D race that begins at 2:30 PM.


Complete Wayne-Finger Lakes League Championship results can be found here.

Posted in: AC in the News, Highlights, The Birches, Upper School, US Birches

HAC Varsity Volleyball Team Wins Section V Class D2 Championship

Posted on November 13th, 2019 by acsrochester

November 11, 2019

Fairport, N.Y. – HAC’s varsity volleyball team are Section V Class D2 Champions after winning 3-0 over the no. 2 seeded Lyons Lions at Fairport High School on Friday evening. The Wolves won 25-18, 25-12 and 25-14 to remain unbeaten at 21-0 on the season and earn their 1st sectional championship since 2013. It was also HAC’s 5th sectional championship title in program history.

The Wolves had many outstanding individual highlights through the match. Freshman setter Tori Colosimo was named Section V Class D2 Tournament MVP and also earned Section V Class D2 All-Tournament Team honors. She tallied 21 assists, 2 kills, 2 aces and 1 block in the championship match.


Senior middle hitter Gia Chaney helped the Wolves with 7 kills, 1 block and 1 ace, while fellow senior and outside hitter Francesca Sorbello added 6 kills, 3 digs and 1 ace. For their performances throughout the tournament, both were name to Section V’s Class D2 All-Tournament Team.


Senior right side hitter Desiree Silver added 6 kills and junior middle hitter Chinara Dorancy notched 4 kills and 2 blocks in the victory.


“I thought we played well and were aggressive,” said head coach Amy Colosimo. “The girls were ready, were prepared and wanted to win. The chemistry of this team has been outstanding. For the majority of seniors, it was their third sectional finals, and through their experiences, (they) knew what they had to do and had been working to win a (sectional) championship all season long. Our team is mentally tough and they never give up; they constantly fight. They shake off their errors and get ready for the next point. We know we can’t take anything for granted and I’m very proud of them.”


For her efforts, head coach Amy Colosimo was named both Finger Lakes West Coach of the Year and Section V Class D2 Coach of the Year. It was the 2nd year in a row that Coach Colosimo had earned such honors. Colosimo has been the head varsity volleyball coach at HAC for 20 years and has been to 6 sectional finals matches and has earned over 250 wins in her career.


Clinching the sectional championship means the Wolves will play next against either Bloomfield or Hammondsport in the New York State Class D Regional Playoffs on Thursday, November 14 at Canandaigua High School at 5:30 PM.


The Wolves have won sectional titles in 1979, 2010, 2011 and 2013. HAC’s last unbeaten regular season came last in 1995 when they finished 17-0.


Photos from the match by Marisa Nicodemus can be found on our Facebook page.
Main Photo by: Shaun Jeffers and courtesy of Section V.
Posted in: AC in the News, Highlights, The Birches, Upper School, US Birches